Bard's Tale IV Reviews

For all Bard's Tale IV discussion that does not fit elsewhere, suggestions, feedback, etc. No spoilers allowed.

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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » October 7th, 2018, 1:41 pm

DNACowboy wrote:
October 7th, 2018, 1:34 pm
Eurogamer review: Recommended, 'a scruffy puzzler's delight'

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018 ... rs-delight
Already mentioned by Themadcow earlier in the thread: viewtopic.php?p=202777#p202609
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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by Themadcow » October 12th, 2018, 8:04 am

RPG Codex review by Felipepepe:

https://rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=11020
When it works, Bard's Tale IV is a satisfying glimpse of what a AAA dungeon-crawler can be. There were moments of pure joy, exploring beautiful vistas, solving interesting puzzles and finding an unique enemy behind a secret door. I'd say I had about 10 hours of good moments in total, mostly in the first half of the game, when the combat and itemization still make sense, and in a few well-made areas or puzzles later on.

But I spent almost 30 hours playing it, and the other 20 hours where extremely repetitive and dull. This is not a good ratio, and it is all due to pointless filler content, that exacerbates every single underlying flaw the game has. I had to force myself to finish it in order to write this review, because the final hours are nothing more then doing mechanical puzzles and fighting cultists over and over. The final puzzle is literally a set of four gear puzzles that must be solved to unlock a larger gear puzzle.

And that's a shame. Even if Bard's Tale IV has nothing to do with old-school dungeon crawlers, it could still be a fun new take on the genre, a kind of "Portal RPG". However, while it was certainly hurt by a rushed release and a terrible starting area, what really dooms it is this recurrent hubris some developers have of always making the longest RPG possible at the expense of anything else, of valuing marketing selling points more than the player's time. Portal 2 is the most famous and highest rated puzzle game of all time, lasting about 8 hours long. Its mechanics are undoubtedly fun, but I doubt many people would even finish the game if they added a tons of dull low-effort filler content to make it 30-40 hours long.

The Bard's Tale IV can't be saved by an enhanced edition or re-balancing patch, because the biggest problem isn't its systems. It needs an abridged version.
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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by Jalis » October 12th, 2018, 8:17 am

Have to agree with the RPG Codex review on the reuse of puzzle mechanics all over. Running up against more dwarven gear puzzles... more moving block puzzles... more fairy golf puzzles... they went to that well far too often, and by the end, I wanted the once-novel puzzles to just be over with so I could get on with it.

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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by PsychicMonk » October 12th, 2018, 9:07 am

My experience with the game was pretty similar: The first 10 hours were somewhat enjoyable once I stomached the fact that this is not a faithful sequel and also much more a puzzler than a RPG. After the first 10 hours the game became more and more repetitive, tedious and finally boring. I stopped playing after approx. 20 hours and I don't plan to finish it in the foreseeable future. Imho they should have condensed the game to 20-25 hours gameplay.

btw: Even though my PC is more a work horse than a gaming PC I strangely had no problems with performance/bugs.

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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by Drool » October 12th, 2018, 2:32 pm

Gives the lie to the "an RPG must be at least 40 hours" crowd.
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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by Gizmo » October 12th, 2018, 3:40 pm

The first game that I saw promote 40 hours of non-repeated gameplay was Dark Forces; (A game that I cannot play due to sim-sickness).

RPGs have the interesting format to allow a 40 hour campaign that does not have to be 100% completed to resolve the campaign. I don't mean like Fallout 2; where the player can complete the game in 18 minutes —per se... I mean that the campaign of an RPG could have myriad pathways to the end, some taking longer than others; and preferably not implemented as preset paths (on rails) that—once taken, decide the end from the outset.

Best IMO would be various ways to begin that lead to various interim content (or even bypassing it), that leads to various ways to end the game. This could mean that the game takes a variable amount of time, depending on choices taken, and that multiple replays might be entirely unfamiliar territory for an experienced player. Consider if Baldur's Gate 2 had used variable locations for the last chapters, and supported interrupting Amelyssan at different stages of her plans, and differing locations, with different allies; or even fully supported any one of The Five Bhaalspawns succeeding the others as the final boss?—Amelyssan might have been killed, or subjugated under one or more of the others.

In such a game, failure (and even retreat) could open additional content that wouldn't have happened otherwise; and unexpectedly swift (or prolonged) victories could do the same—or even prevent certain events. Imaging a final battle where if it lasts long enough, allies would finally arrive (exhausted, but ready to help), for example: after 25 combat rounds... and this happening could change the narrative, because [for instance] the PC was beaten unconscious during the fight, and rescued by their allies. Imagine if the allies were for the enemy, and it made the fight [almost] impossible to win, and opened a new path as a prisoner—or even a very unexpected victor... with narrative consequences to being either.

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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by thebruce » October 15th, 2018, 7:25 am

Gizmo wrote:
October 12th, 2018, 3:40 pm
RPGs have the interesting format to allow a 40 hour campaign that does not have to be 100% completed to resolve the campaign. I don't mean like Fallout 2; where the player can complete the game in 18 minutes —per se... I mean that the campaign of an RPG could have myriad pathways to the end, some taking longer than others; and preferably not implemented as preset paths (on rails) that—once taken, decide the end from the outset.
I envision a game where the final 'battle' requires elements achieved from multiple sources, multiple locations, multiple 'rails' as it were; story 'beats'. Each of those can accomplished at any time, so the player has many choices and routes they could take, but each 'beat' has to be completed in order to find success and complete the game. So the game is open-world, and you can attempt things that are much more difficult than you're ready for, and might even be successful in some cases. Then at least you could tally the time per arc as a total for the gameplay. The final scene could be attempted right off the bat, but obviously you'd fail for clear reasons :P

In a sense, during development, if people are able to find ways of reducing the playtime, whatever arcs end up being much shorter than intended can easily be extended, both in gameplay and story content, without affecting much of anything else.

BT3 was actually pretty linear. BT1 was as well (despite being able to jump to the catacombs if you knew the password). IIRC, BT2 I think was the least linear of the games with most of the dungeons accessible independently any time. But good luck if you're too weak.

Of course the caveat is that the more accessible you make each of the arcs for any time, the easier most of them will become as you get stronger. That's an argument for dynamic difficulty - which is a Bad Thing in a BT-style dungeon crawler. So I'd say soem of those arcs should also be boosted in base difficulty so there is still some level of 'order' to which beats you're able to successfully complete, while many of them can be done any time.

Like if there are 16 'dungeons', the difficulties could be something like
1121314152627289X
All generally accessible any time, but loads of 1's and 2's, and others where the chance of survival grow slimmer if unprepared. But you can't win X until you win most if not all the other story beats.
(by arcs and beats I mean the arc leads to the beat, which is the completion goal for the arc)

Story content can obviously mix things up as desired, even if there's a linear progression through certain arcs for the main storyline. Doesn't have to be 100% disconnected :)
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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by Spectralshade » October 15th, 2018, 8:45 am

thebruce wrote:
October 15th, 2018, 7:25 am
Gizmo wrote:
October 12th, 2018, 3:40 pm
RPGs have the interesting format to allow a 40 hour campaign that does not have to be 100% completed to resolve the campaign. I don't mean like Fallout 2; where the player can complete the game in 18 minutes —per se... I mean that the campaign of an RPG could have myriad pathways to the end, some taking longer than others; and preferably not implemented as preset paths (on rails) that—once taken, decide the end from the outset.
I envision a game where the final 'battle' requires elements achieved from multiple sources, multiple locations, multiple 'rails' as it were; story 'beats'. Each of those can accomplished at any time, so the player has many choices and routes they could take, but each 'beat' has to be completed in order to find success and complete the game. So the game is open-world, and you can attempt things that are much more difficult than you're ready for, and might even be successful in some cases. Then at least you could tally the time per arc as a total for the gameplay. The final scene could be attempted right off the bat, but obviously you'd fail for clear reasons :P

In a sense, during development, if people are able to find ways of reducing the playtime, whatever arcs end up being much shorter than intended can easily be extended, both in gameplay and story content, without affecting much of anything else.

BT3 was actually pretty linear. BT1 was as well (despite being able to jump to the catacombs if you knew the password). IIRC, BT2 I think was the least linear of the games with most of the dungeons accessible independently any time. But good luck if you're too weak.

Of course the caveat is that the more accessible you make each of the arcs for any time, the easier most of them will become as you get stronger. That's an argument for dynamic difficulty - which is a Bad Thing in a BT-style dungeon crawler. So I'd say soem of those arcs should also be boosted in base difficulty so there is still some level of 'order' to which beats you're able to successfully complete, while many of them can be done any time.

Like if there are 16 'dungeons', the difficulties could be something like
1121314152627289X
All generally accessible any time, but loads of 1's and 2's, and others where the chance of survival grow slimmer if unprepared. But you can't win X until you win most if not all the other story beats.
(by arcs and beats I mean the arc leads to the beat, which is the completion goal for the arc)

Story content can obviously mix things up as desired, even if there's a linear progression through certain arcs for the main storyline. Doesn't have to be 100% disconnected :)
This reminded me of an old world of warcraft raid.

Back when I played that game, they released a raid instance at one point that was a location with trolls and troll 'gods'. If we ignore 'trash monsters' (the monsters you fight between bosses that are there as 'filling' but can still be problematic if you don't use the right tactic) you could basicly walk up to the final boss in that 'dungeon' before attempting any other bosses. However, for each of the other bosses that were still alive, the final boss had a bonus that made him practical impossible to kill without killing any other bosses, and quite hard if you kept even a single one alive. So theoretically it was possible to just head straigth for the final boss in that dungeon, but nobody did that because it would be way harder than it needed to, and people also wanted the loot from the other bosses as well. Also, there was no specific order you needed to take the other bosses in, it was up to the raidleader which direction the raid should head in and what they should do while inside the dungeon.

so within that instance you had the open non-linear gameplay, but there still was a 'final boss' that everyone fought as the last one because of the way the dungeon was designed. Thinking back to it, it was actually a pretty innovative design of its time.

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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by Gizmo » October 15th, 2018, 8:48 am

@thebruce

I would prefer that the odds for a weak PC/Party be far less in the stronger dungeons, but not outright impossible. The previously accomplished story events could each increase the odds for what equipment and/or allies that they provide (or exclude—for the opposition), but that nothing be utterly winnable... That is far too much like [the dreaded] thresholds system that only allows an action when it's a given that the action succeeds.

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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by Tuoweit » October 15th, 2018, 9:11 am

thebruce wrote:
October 15th, 2018, 7:25 am
Of course the caveat is that the more accessible you make each of the arcs for any time, the easier most of them will become as you get stronger. That's an argument for dynamic difficulty - which is a Bad Thing in a BT-style dungeon crawler. So I'd say soem of those arcs should also be boosted in base difficulty so there is still some level of 'order' to which beats you're able to successfully complete, while many of them can be done any time.
Maybe I'm not understanding why you think it's a Bad Thing (since you simply declare it without supporting it), but I don't think dynamic difficulty is inherently bad, it's a matter of implementation. It needs to make sense in terms of the story.

For example (not a very good one), if you chose to explore the elven ruins first instead of the dwarven ruins, afterwards the enemies all have dwarven weapons wherever you next choose to go. If the difficulty isn't directly tied to your party's level, but rather is a consequence of your choices, I think that would avoid the treadmill feeling of always fighting "appropriate-level foes".

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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by thebruce » October 15th, 2018, 9:48 am

Tuoweit wrote:
October 15th, 2018, 9:11 am
Maybe I'm not understanding why you think it's a Bad Thing (since you simply declare it without supporting it), but I don't think dynamic difficulty is inherently bad, it's a matter of implementation. It needs to make sense in terms of the story.
It was a general consensus discussed a lot in a prior thread elsewhere in the forum. That particular topic was another somewhat-debate.
For example (not a very good one), if you chose to explore the elven ruins first instead of the dwarven ruins, afterwards the enemies all have dwarven weapons wherever you next choose to go. If the difficulty isn't directly tied to your party's level, but rather is a consequence of your choices, I think that would avoid the treadmill feeling of always fighting "appropriate-level foes".
The issue was more related to ... No matter how strong or advanced you are, aspects of dungeon X's difficulty will scale with your ability. No dungeon really gets "easier" the better you are. It can work in some games, just not BT.
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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by Drool » October 15th, 2018, 2:39 pm

thebruce wrote:
October 15th, 2018, 7:25 am
BT3 was actually pretty linear.
Not only that, but it was essentially just a series of fetch quests.
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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by DNACowboy » October 16th, 2018, 4:35 am

PsychicMonk wrote:
October 12th, 2018, 9:07 am
My experience with the game was pretty similar: The first 10 hours were somewhat enjoyable once I stomached the fact that this is not a faithful sequel and also much more a puzzler than a RPG. After the first 10 hours the game became more and more repetitive, tedious and finally boring. I stopped playing after approx. 20 hours and I don't plan to finish it in the foreseeable future. Imho they should have condensed the game to 20-25 hours gameplay.

btw: Even though my PC is more a work horse than a gaming PC I strangely had no problems with performance/bugs.
Strange, I didn't get that at all, I am still deeply involved in the game as I find the story line and mythology fascinating, but I suppose in this day and age of instant gratification I do understand the game might not be for everyone (yourself not included). However, if gamers are looking for that deeper experience from an rpg and a game that employs fantastic vocal talent but not overly concerned if the rpg is missing reams of text then look no further than BT4.
About 'bugs', me either, and while I did have a few issues with the beta I haven't found a single bug in the retail whatsoever.
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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by Spectralshade » October 16th, 2018, 5:41 am

DNACowboy wrote:
October 16th, 2018, 4:35 am
I suppose in this day and age of instant gratification I do understand the game might not be for everyone (yourself not included).
It's just impossible for you to not try and insult people, isn't it?

None of the complaints about the game have been about "instant gratification".

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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by DNACowboy » October 16th, 2018, 5:59 am

Spectralshade wrote:
October 16th, 2018, 5:41 am
DNACowboy wrote:
October 16th, 2018, 4:35 am
I suppose in this day and age of instant gratification I do understand the game might not be for everyone (yourself not included).
It's just impossible for you to not try and insult people, isn't it?
Please get over yourself, no-one was insulted and I specifically went out of my way to declare my comments were not aimed at the op. http://bfy.tw/KNrc
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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by thebruce » October 16th, 2018, 6:28 am

Considering there have been reviews explicitly crticizing the (lack of) depth of the game, your opinion about "instant gratification" was sweeping (despite making an "exception" for the commenter), followed by a claim that BT4 is be all and end all of RPG depth. Surely can you understand how that could absolutely be taken as an insult, as now anyone who reads that and didn't like the game is someone you'd claim is only satisfied by instant gratification. Your reply would have been much less contentious without that comment.

Here's an example rewrite:
Strange, I didn't get that at all, I am still deeply involved in the game as I find the story line and mythology fascinating. However, if gamers are looking for that deeper experience from an rpg and a game that employs fantastic vocal talent but not overly concerned if the rpg is missing reams of text then BT4 may be a game they enjoy, like me.
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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by Lanatir » October 16th, 2018, 9:20 am

Out of pure curiosity...how long can this particular user keep insulting everyone else before there is any consequence? Considering Steam users get banned from commenting right away for just criticizing the game?

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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by eisberg » October 16th, 2018, 9:13 pm

Lanatir wrote:
October 16th, 2018, 9:20 am
Considering Steam users get banned from commenting right away for just criticizing the game?
Except that didn't happen at all. Everyone who got banned on that forum very much deserved to be banned, because they were blatantly breaking the Steam rules, and they did it repeatedly. Nobody was banned for just criticizing the game, if that was true then there would be zero threads criticizing the game.

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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by DNACowboy » October 17th, 2018, 7:04 am

thebruce wrote:
October 16th, 2018, 6:28 am
Considering there have been reviews explicitly crticizing the (lack of) depth of the game, your opinion about "instant gratification" was sweeping (despite making an "exception" for the commenter), followed by a claim that BT4 is be all and end all of RPG depth. Surely can you understand how that could absolutely be taken as an insult, as now anyone who reads that and didn't like the game is someone you'd claim is only satisfied by instant gratification. Your reply would have been much less contentious without that comment.

Here's an example rewrite:
Strange, I didn't get that at all, I am still deeply involved in the game as I find the story line and mythology fascinating. However, if gamers are looking for that deeper experience from an rpg and a game that employs fantastic vocal talent but not overly concerned if the rpg is missing reams of text then BT4 may be a game they enjoy, like me.
Now you're trying to tell people how to think and compose? :roll: As for your 'BT4 all and end all' comments I give it the attention it deserves, which is none.
Lanatir wrote:
October 16th, 2018, 9:20 am
Out of pure curiosity...how long can this particular user keep insulting everyone else before there is any consequence? Considering Steam users get banned from commenting right away for just criticizing the game?
If you mean making a generalisation that the game 'might not be for everybody but that if gamers are looking for an rpg that has a rich story and deeply involving they might enjoy BT4' then yes, I am guilty as charged; however describing that as an 'insult' is an enormous exaggeration designed purely to punish someone for having a different opinion to their own. However, if we are now taking punitive action due to differing opinions then somewhere along the line our educators have forgotten some of the basics pertaining to the concepts of free speech and liberty.
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Re: Bard's Tale IV Reviews

Post by phimseto » October 17th, 2018, 7:51 am

To dial down on the acrimony. I suggest breaking down these different conversation beats into other discussion threads. The thread has gotten away from simply being about external game reviews.

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